Last week I picked up a thin green folder with 4 sheets of A4 paper in it.
Mads pre school application.
At 2 and a half, she can't actually go to our local pre school until 2 years nine months, but due to limited spaces it is best to get the application form in as soon as you can.
I wasn't aware just quite how much this green folder would stir up strange emotions in me.
I want Mads to go to pre school, I really do. I have been without her occasionally since she was 11 months old when I returned to work. I worked three days a week and Mads went to my mum and two incredibly wonderful family friends. She still does a day and a half a week.
I am used to being without her, I am happy to go on the occasional night away from her (4 times in her little life so far) but pre-school?
Well that's something else.
Time is going so fast. Having our lovely LL seems to have reinforced this even more. It's almost as if LL's arrival has made Mads appear even more grown up overnight. She is growing that little bit taller, speaking that little bit more, and learning to do new things every day.
Compared to her little sister, she seems so big.
At 2 and a half, her baby days are well and truly behind us. I don't see a baby when I look at her anymore. I don't even see a toddler.
I see a little girl.
And with that little girl I see a glimpse of the future. Of learning to let her go, just a little at a time.
There will be pre-school. Then there will be school. She will lose some of her innocence that makes her who she is. My little girl who has never ever so much as lashed out at another child. My little girl who believes in the Easter Bunny, in Father Christmas and who dances around the room to the Bubble Guppies theme tune.
My little girl who sucks her fingers and plays with the ears of whoever will let her when she is tired and needing a comfort.
My little girl who truly believes her Mummy and Daddy are superheros who can do anything.
My little girl who needs her Mummy when she is sad.
My kind hearted, innocent, brave little person who knows nothing of the bad things that can happen in the world. Who dances naked and shakes her 'bum bum' and who has no issues with body image or confidence. Who hasn't got a bad bone in her little body.
I have a huge desire to wrap her up in cotton wool and never let her go. At times I wish I had a large stopwatch that was capable of slowing down time, or even stop it. To keep my babies the age they are now. To stop them growing so quickly.
But I can't do that.
I have to let my big girl take her first steps into the world. I have to let her go, even slightly, and let her be Mad's. To find out who she is. To grow, to learn and to develop into the person she is going to be.
When I hand that small green folder back into our local preschool next week, I need to remember how I am feeling at this moment.
I need to remember to treasure every single moment with my girls. Even the everyday moments- the naked dancing, the silly giggles and the tired cuddles. The little bruised legs poking out underneath her pink tutu and the way her curls bounce when she runs.
I need to fill our days with fun, love and happiness. So that when she is grown up she can remember these days we spent together, however distant and long ago they may seem.
I need to learn to let her go, let go of her hand and let her take her first steps into the world. Yes it's only pre school, but it's the start of a long line of things to come. It may only be an application form, but it's almost like signing a form saying that this first part of our lives and journey together are over. Starting pre school is like starting another chapter- the chapter where she grows up that little bit more.
The days that we are each other's everything. That I have to accept her growing up.
She may not look so little anymore.
But she will always be my baby.